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What Happens to the HR Professional in the Interview Hot Seat?

What Happens to the HR Professional in the Interview Hot Seat?

Most people would think that the job interview would be a “slam-dunk” for the HR Professional who knows everything there is to know about the hiring process. The truth however is that most HR professionals find the job interview as daunting as the rest of the candidates when they sit on the “other side of the desk.” And, many of them blow it!

The following are some myths and truths about the HR professional in the interview as the candidate, followed by some tips worth reviewing – even if you are an expert.

Common Myths

1. The HR Professional feels calm and relaxed during the interview because this is familiar “turf.”

FALSE – The HR professional is vulnerable to the same anxieties as anyone else. You are going out to “sell yourself” just like everybody else and it is not unusual to want to make a good impression. The same fear of not wanting to “make a fool of yourself” is present for you as a professional as it is for all the other candidates.

2. The HR Professional can relax during the interview because this will be an informal interview between professionals.

FALSE – It is a mistake to think of this interview as an “informal” interview between professionals – even if it is. While you may feel more relaxed because you are talking to a colleague, that colleague is attempting to find the “best person for the job,” not a new friend.

3. The HR Professional can talk “shop” about the frustrations of the job because you will be talking to a “colleague.”

FALSE – Becoming too familiar, or unprofessional” in any way,  may hurt your chances of being taken seriously as a qualified candidate for the position. Using language or discriminatory remarks that are in any way inappropriate for a job interview will be a huge mistake, even though you are speaking to someone who knows the truth about what goes on behind “closed doors.”

4. The HR Professional has contacts in the industry and that will assure that they will get the job.

FALSE – While it is true that knowing people in the industry will be a tremendous help in getting the interview, there are no guarantees that you will get the job once you begin the process. You will be on your own to try to convince the interviewer that you are the best person for the job.

5. The HR Professional doesn’t have to prepare for the interview because they know the process and what the employer is looking for.

FALSE – This is the biggest mistake of all. Not preparing or taking the process seriously because you are an HR professional may be your own undoing. You should know what you are seeking, analyze what the interviewer is looking for in a candidate, and prepare to sell yourself – just like everyone else.

Preparation Tips

1. Know What You Are Seeking

The first item worth spending time on before you begin your search is to determine what YOU are seeking in your next job. Here’s your chance to make up your “wish” list.

2. Assess What Is Needed To Perform The Job.

Any sales person would tell you that in order to sell anyone something you have to know what they need. Job Postings are “pieces of gold.” Read through job postings to find out what your customer (the interviewer) is looking for – what is the need?

Read the job posting three times.

  • Read the first time for content.
  • Read the second time for words – vocabulary. What words appear consistently in almost every posting?
  • Read the third time and read between the lines – what would it take to get this job done? What are they looking for?

When you have analyzed the job posting begin a list of qualities that are necessary to do the job so that you can compare and contrast yourself as a fit for the position.

3. Assess Your Skills

“What can you bring to this position?” This question is an important question that is often asked during the interview. Doing a comparison between what “they” are looking for against what you have to offer will allow you to answer this question in a confident and self-assured manner.

The HR professional may be knowledgeable about the workings of the human resources functions, but that is no guarantees when it comes to getting hired. Assessment and preparation will make a big difference in your success.

Don’t let the industry myths get in the way of your getting the job you want and deserve.

This article was written by Carole Martin, SPHR. Read more at and

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About Carole Martin

Carole Martin, SPHR, is a professional interviewer, coach, author, and speaker. She has authored nine books on the subjects of interviewing, hiring, and salary negotiation. See the web sites and

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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